Posted by Kali on July 18, 1997 at 02:04:32:
In reply to Re: What was Emma's tone? posted by Laraine on July 17, 1997 at 09:57:10
For me, what's really pivotal about the scene is not the specifics of what's said by anyone--Emma's made bigger mistakes and Mr. Knightley has taken her to task for it. What's pivotal is the fact that Emma realises her mistake without hiding in self-defense or self-deceit.
I agree, but only eventually (after the picnic is over and she is at home) does she accept responsibility for this reaction...remember her retort, "I dare say she did not understand me?" and her statement about there being no better creature, though what is good and what is ridiculous are intermingled in her character? Box Hill is the climax of the story because it sees several of the characters run the course of their natures, and hit rock bottom...Mrs. Elton finally explodes, Frank purposefully goads Jane, Jane explodes, Miss Bates makes a fool of herself, and Emma - gleefully playing into Frank's trap - makes herself an insensitive ass. And though she's the only one of this crew to realize her mistakes, she can't admit it right away (this has always been her problem).
The remarkable reaction at Box Hill is not Emma's - it is Mr. Knightley's! His scolding frightens her into the introspective mood which eventually brings on several epiphanies and repentances within a short period of time. She thinks that her position in Mr. Knightley's esteem is in jeopardy. She knows that he is right (it's obvious! She knows that he usually always is - she has deluded herself for years in thinking otherwise)...her excuses are in vain, and Mr. Knightley's words force her to face up to this fact - that night. This is the beginning of a larger transformation - from the Box Hill scolding through to the proposal scene, Emma undergoes a change completed only by marriage to "her conscience"...her better half. Without Mr. Knightley, Emma would have continued to delude herself long into the future.